What Not to Say to Someone Going Through a Divorce: 6 Things to Avoid

Real talk: Being a good BFF also means being a de facto grief counselor. And nothing tests that dynamic quite like supporting a friend going through a painful divorce. While the best thing you can do is end an objective ear and a shoulder to cry on, there are certain common consolation phrases that actually do more harm than good. Here, what not to say to someone going through a divorce.

1. “I always hated them anyway.”

While the idea may be that this is ultimately a good thing (since your friend is a goddess and the ex is you know, Satan), this is the equivalent of saying “told you so.” I.e.: Not helpful. She’s probably already questioning her judgment, so no need to kick her when she’s down. Instead, direct conversation to her feelings and needs, and when she starts bad-mouthing the guy, simply listen and tell her you understand why she feels that way.

2. “You’re such a catch, you’ll find someone new.” 

This is a well-intentioned sentiment, but it’s pretty heartbreaking for your pal to entertain the idea of another person if she isn’t yet over her current partner. Instead, help her get excited about all the extra “me time” she’ll have now that she’s not so focused on her relationship. Fiction-writing workshop, anyone?  

3. “I saw [name of soon-to-be-ex] at the grocery store today.”

Keeping tabs on your friend’s ex may feel like a call of duty (or it may just be hard to resist if you want to murder him), but it’s your job to move your pal’s mind to forward-looking topics. "No one wants to hear that you saw her ex out and about or, God forbid, with someone else", says relationship expert Emily Holmes Hahn of LastFirst. So the next time you spot Pete the Cheat at the Stop & Shop buying Oreos, resist the urge to spread the news.

4. “Let me know if you need anything.”

Take the initiative and do without waiting to be asked. Offer to have her over for dinner, or to watch her kids so she can have a spa day. Often, when people go through something traumatic, they’re too shell-shocked to ask for anything, "but don’t assume silence means they don’t need your help", says Hahn.

5. “Let’s party!”

Your first instinct may be to arrange a fun night out on the town, but chances are your pal is an emotional wreck, even if she appears OK on the surface. And booze? Not always an upper. Instead, arrange a healthy and uplifting social activity to perk her up---like a group fitness class or culture-rich trip.

6. “I know what you’re going through.”

It may seem like you’re helping your friend feel less alone by talking about your own problems or past experiences. But by making this about you, you're ultimately minimizing her more immediate pain. And nobody wants to hear about your freshman year breakup, anyway. (We promise.)

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